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Savills Asia Predict A 5% Drop In Rental Prices Year On Year

Photo by Eugene Lim

Finally, a reprieve from the ever-increasing rental market.

Photo by Mike Enerio

Good news for all those renters out there, the days of 100% rental hikes look to be behind us as Savills Asia has reported that they predict a 5% decrease in rental prices for this year.

One of the key reasons they give is that the leasing activity of private residential properties has been slowing down due to businesses, especially those in the tech and finance industries, restructuring to pare down their costs.

The island-wide rental index of non-landed private residential units by the URA slipped by 1.8% QoQ in Q4/2023, marking the first QoQ decline since Q4/2020. Rents for these properties also fell across all the market segments. The largest QoQ drop was seen in the Outside Central Region (OCR) at 2.8%, followed by the Core Central Region (CCR) at 1.6% and the Rest of Central Region (RCR) at 1.2%.

In the last quarter, out of all the projects in the Savills basket, 60.5% showed rental declines on a quarterly basis, while 13.2% remained unchanged. Thus, after a marginal drop of 0.6% QoQ in Q3/2023, the average monthly rents for high-end non-landed private residential projects tracked by Savills fell another 2.2% QoQ in the fourth quarter.

The positive rental growth seen in the first half of the year was partially offset by the weakness shown in Q4, resulting in a moderation of growth rate of 3.2% for 2023. On top of increasing supply of new competitors in the vicinity and cheaper alternatives around the island, landlords had to stay flexible to secure leases as the tenant pool for these high-end homes has considerably shrunk because of tough business conditions.

In the last quarter, the number of rental contracts for landed houses decreased the most, by 29.6% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ). For non-landed private residential properties, the quarterly decline in leasing contracts has been broadly similar across market segments, in the range of 17.0% to 19.3%.

A total of 82,257 private residential properties island-wide were rented out in 2023, 8.9% lower than the 90,291 transactions concluded in 2022. This is also the lowest leasing volume in seven years, since 2016.

George Tan, Managing Director, Livethere Residential, Savills Singapore says, “Given that the demand for expatriate housing has eased, the increased availability of units due to the completion of 19,968 new build units in 2023, with another 9,636 expected in 2024, provide tenants with a broader range of options to choose from.”

Alan Cheong, Executive Director, Research & Consultancy, Savills Singapore says, “We expect rents to fall year-on-year, but landlords who have leases due will still get a rental uplift because the current rents are still higher than those signed two years ago. However, the landlords who are asking for rental increases greater than market rates will find that not only enquiries fall to negligible levels, but also the unit may remain vacant for a prolonged time.

Higher mortgage rates and significantly higher property taxes for 2024 may hinder the downward adjustment to rentals, as landlords in general will attempt to pass these costs to the tenant. That may even lead some landlords to take the illogical route of leaving the units vacant for months rather than accept a lower offer.”

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